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Montréal, best place in North America for AI investment

September 3, 2019

Montréal is ranked No. 1 among 20 major cities in Canada and the U.S. for the quality of its artificial intelligence (AI) industry based on a comparative analysis by fDi Benchmark from the Financial Times. This database, which evaluates a site’s competitiveness for foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, confirms that Greater Montréal is the most competitive metropolitan region for AI.

Most attractive city for AI

Montréal leads the pack for the quality indicator that measures the most decisive factors for an investment project. The city has a 9% competitive edge in the AI sector over San Francisco, 11% over New York City and 47% over the average of the 20 cities.

The five criteria assessed are vibrancy of the ecosystem, availability of skilled workers, the business environment, infrastructures and accessibility to international markets as well as quality of life. Montréal ranks highly due to its vibrant AI ecosystem as well as the availability of its skilled workforce.

Quality indicator for AI industry 20 major cities in Canada and the U.S. (Montréal = 100)

Most competitive operating costs

What’s more, Montréal gets top spot for the competitiveness of its operating costs according to the fDi Benchmark cost comparison. Therefore, operating an AI company in Greater Montréal costs less than in any other major city in Canada and the U.S. The cost advantage for Montréal is 32% compared to the average of the 20 major cities, 83% compared to New York City and 107% compared to San Francisco.

Operating cost indicator for an AI company

20 major cities in Canada and the U.S. (Montréal = 100)

The fDi Benchmark comparison analysis confirms that Montréal is the best place in North America to invest in AI and explains the amazing growth it has experienced in the past few years. In the past two years, Montréal International has supported more than 30 artificial intelligence projects in the region, with investments totalling $500 million. The most important are presented in the timeline below:

Methodological note: fDi Benchmark developed two site comparison models. One evaluates the quality of the industry sector and the other calculates the operating costs. The fDi Benchmark quality model categorizes and weights a total of 120 data points. The focus is on the vibrancy of the ecosystem and the availability of a skilled workforce, which represent 35% and 30% respectively of the total score. The annual operating costs model is based on labour costs, rent and electricity for a 9,688-sq. ft. facility that can accommodate 70 employees with 35 job titles in AI.